According to the World Health Organization, someone dies of suicide every 40 seconds. We need to keep mental health in the conversation.
As many of you know I grew up in Utah but have lived in New York for almost 4 years. In between lease agreements, I decided to go back for the summer and visit family I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. As I’m preparing my return back to New York, I think about the HUGE culture differences. Did you know that suicide is the leading cause of death for ages 10-17 in Utah?
In Utah, religion continues to be the culprit. The majority of these suicides are LGBTQ teens. If you’re being taught from a young age that being gay is an abomination, your mental health is going to be severely impacted. In Nov. 2015, the Mormon church ‘had revelation from God’ to excommunicate anyone acting on their homosexuality, and children (>18 yrs) of gay parents could not be allowed to join their church. We’re dealing with an organization that not only feeds depression but is the root cause of depression.
Dan Reynolds of “Imagine Dragons” has come out in support for the LGBTQ community. Reynolds said he felt guilty that his religion preaches hate and intolerance. “Mormons believe the doctrine is if you are gay and acting upon it, that is sinful,” he explained. “That is a very dangerous and hurtful and hateful thing to preach and to teach our children. To be gay is beautiful and right and perfect; to tell someone they need to change their inner-most being is setting up someone for an unhealthy life and unhealthy foundation.”
I don’t know what else to say. I don’t know how to help. I remember being young feeling guilty and hell-bound for little things like swearing or sneaking to buy a cup of coffee at the gas station before school… I cannot imagine what it’s like for these young teenagers to feel that who they are as a person is innately evil.
If you know someone who is struggling with mental health please reach out to them, even if it’s just a listening ear. If you see a teenager who is having a difficult time, befriend them, encourage them, love them. Remind them that they’re perfect the way they are, that you understand the pain they’re in, validate their feelings… and remind them that they have a place in this world.
Place your hand over your heart, can you feel it? That is called purpose. You’re alive for a reason so don’t ever give up.